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What is Remote Mentoring and how is it useful?
How do you build your mentees confidence, and establish a trusting relationship when you you’re not in the same room? Remote mentoring has the distinct advantage of anywhere, anytime, but there are a few adjustments to make to ensure quality mentoring outcomes.
How to begin the relationship
What platform? What introductions? What’s the best way to establish the connection? Our first tip is about proactive communication. There is no silver bullet way of building the first step, other than clear parameters from Mill House applied across the relationship.
We will induct the Associates into the Mill House Internship and highlight their responsibility to proactively connect with you, but then, you may want to guide them in what proactive communication involves; help them to establish what platform you’ll both use, how often you connect (we recommend half an hour a week for updates but you do you) and then getting to the heart of how you want the relationship to unfold.
For our Accelerator Participants, whom we call GRISTers, the relationship is longer term and you will go deeper into the challenges of iterating impact and business models. Some of our mentors have even gone on to become part of the Advisory Group or Board Members for our Alumni. In 2020, we are delivering a virtual program.
# TIP 1 – PROACTIVE COMMUNICATION
Empowering Associates and younger people involves encouraging and building confidence by demonstrating the style of communication you like and need. Remember back to your early days as a new graduate or work experience student: what do you wish you knew then that you have figured out for yourself. How can you help these young future makers stand on the shoulders of giants? For GRISTers, you will be on a long-term journey with these mentees. Get to the heart of their Social Enterprise by understanding their why and set the parameters of the relationship by sharing your experiences. Understand their GOAL and advise how you can lend your skills to help them reach their mark.
How to maintain connection
One of the key work–integrated–learning aspects Mill House Clinic encourages in our Associates is the ability to scope a project within a tight timeframe and with a clear deliverable. In order to maintain a connection for Associates, who are often full-time students working in full time jobs, technology becomes your godsend. GRISTers will be tightly connected to Mill House through a series of deliverable. You will be guided by the Enterprise Development Manager in group touch points during the program and maintaining updates and communication will be a decision made between you and your mentee.
# TIP 2 – Use tools help to facilitate communication
When I GRISTed, my mentor requested weekly updates via WhatsApp. We mapped my milestones in our first session, clarifies my goal (which was to deliver a kick-ass presentation) and I broke down that goal into actionable items for me to deliver. When I got stuck, my mentor was there to provide me with stories, confidence and tools to get over through the challenges. My weekly WhatsApp updates helped me to be accountable to myself. Be creative. Look at what platforms currently work for you and ask your mentee what tech they currently use. Is there a cross over?
# TIP 3 – Understand what needs to be communicated and use the right tool at the right time.
For busy people, with competing priorities and big responsibilities, Just in Time delivery is the skill to deploy to efficiently achieve an outcome. Understand the type of job, in this case what needs to be communicated, will help you and your mentee figure what tools to use. Is it a weekly update, can it be texted? Use a simple IM tool like WhatsApp or Facebook. Is it a planning session? You might need a collaborative video conferencing tool like Zoom and ask your mentee to provide the agenda. Is it a goal setting session? Why not use Google Docs and provide commentary? Do you need to solve a problem together or have a difficult conversation? It might be a phone call. And at any point, if you are both well, and respect social distancing, a face to face chat might be what you need.
# TIP 4 – Virtual meetings, remote mentoring and online connections need additional resources.
If your mentee can’t build the documents you need or you are both struggling, ask Mill House!
The CoVid pandemic has people in a tailspin, and for Mill House we are now exploring and preparing for a Virtual Delivery of our programs. We are building resources, reviewing tools and thinking about the additional time and support we need to provide to help you enjoy your mentoring experience while we all work together to ensure Social Enterprise thrives and we build investible Social Ventures. Ask us what we tools and resources we have to help. We will do everything we can to support great outcomes.
How to end the mentoring
For the Mill House Clinic, the Associates have a clear deadline tied to their unit completion. The expectation is your connection ends with that intern at the end of the project. But is that really the end? Not for us! We want you to stay connected. And not for our clients. You’ve formed a relationship with an active social enterprise, Indigenous Led business, or for purpose venture and we want those Change Makers to maintain good supplier relationships to help build their business and impact success.
For the Mill House Accelerator, your mentoring of a GRISTer culminates at the Showcase Graduation; however, many of our Alumni maintain their relationships with their mentors independent of the Mill House. This is great, and a necessary step in growing the network of advocacy for Social Enterprise in our region. Our recommendation is to still stage an exit plan, and complete GRIST then figure out how you want to continue the relationship.
# TIP 5 – Decide at the beginning when and how you will end the mentoring.
Deadlines, establishing expectations and then knowing when the intensity of the Mentoring @ Mill House project ends is best decided at the beginning. Talk about the last engagement, the end point for the goal you set together and think carefully about what social media channels you want to engage and connect on. Just like in real life, you don’t need to jump straight in and be best friends for ever. Having said that, LinkedIn is a pretty safe bet.
Remote mentoring will require a few more resources.
Thankfully, Mill House Ventures has four years of programming knowledge and lessons learned plus a wealth of professional experience in our team background to give you what you need to successfully engage in remote mentoring practice. These five tips are just the beginning of resources and tools we will be developing in our program delivery, but the heart of Mill House Ventures will always be people. The human element of what you do and how you help will always be our priority.
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